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Are Rams headed toward an overwhelmingly defensive draft?

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By: JB Scott

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Rams offense significantly outweighs defense after Aaron Donald’s retirement

The Los Angeles Rams say they knew Aaron Donald planned to retire shortly after their wildcard loss to the Detroit Lions. Still, they mainly focused on offense in the early going of free agency by signing LG Jonah Jackson and adding TE Colby Parkinson. On Friday they chose Jimmy Garoppolo as the backup QB to Matthew Stafford.

CB Darius Williams was a relatively affordable signing that immediately upgrades LA’s cornerback room. More secondary help came via former Washington Commanders safety Kam Curl.

While Williams and Curl are certainly welcome additions in positions of need, the defense is nowhere near fixed—especially considering the Rams are now without the best player on their entire roster over the last decade in Donald. LA can’t just assume rookie breakouts Kobie Turner and Byron Young will take another step forward in their second season, and the Rams haven’t found an answer at edge defender opposite of Young. It’s unlikely they will two weeks into free agency, but you can never count them out until after the trade deadline has passed.

Even the most layman football fan can tell that the Rams’ offense seems lopsided compared to the team’s defense. While it’s always been said that “defense wins championships”, Los Angeles will put the weight of their season on the rocket right arm of Stafford.

With the offense being the main focus of free agency and the primary area where LA has allocated its cash and salary cap resources, could we see the Rams overwhelmingly favor defense when the NFL Draft rolls around next month?

Read: Blaine Grisak’s seven-round mock draft

What position will Rams target in the first round?

Without Donald, we might not be able to rule out a single defensive position in the first round for LA other than the traditional “low value” areas of the roster likely safety and off-ball linebacker. The Rams have been able to find players at such positions into the later rounds of the draft historically.

Could we see Los Angeles select an edge rusher at #19 overall? Cornerback would be a welcome addition too. Williams will fill a starting spot on the outside, but the Rams need to find a corner with size and the ability to press receivers at the line of scrimmage.

The only offensive positions that make sense early are receiver (Cooper Kupp is aging, Demarcus Robinson and Tutu Atwell are free agents in 2025) and quarterback if the Rams fall in love with someone.

How many defensive players will the Rams draft?

Los Angeles has 11 selections heading into the draft. At some point the Rams should take some stabs at rebuilding depth along the offensive line, especially at the tackle spots based on Alaric Jackson’s contract status and Rob Havenstein’s climbing age. Even if they find a receiver early and select a developmental quarterback, the Rams still need to identify talent in numbers on the defensive side of the ball.

Ernest Jones is heading into a contract year. While he seems like an extension candidate, could the team instead hedge their bet by investing in a developmental prospect that can take over next season? Can LA count on Williams sticking around beyond a single season, or do they view him as more of a short-term option?

There are more questions than answers on defense for the Rams.